HOME | ABOUT | INDEX | FACEBOOK | CONTACT | DONATE


TWO SPIRIT

Native | Tribal | Indigenous | Aboriginal
 

Lily Gladstone Talks She/They Pronouns and Gender-Inclusive Award Categories

Two-Spirit Heroes Who Paved the Way for Today's Native LGBTQ Community

Native American LGBTQ Info and Resources

Frybread Face and Me: Navajo Boy Finds His Queerness and His Culture
LGBTQ Native Americans: Making the World a Better Place
Two-Spirit Joy (and Pain) Examined in New Doc 'Being Thunder'
Wikipedia: Two Spirit
Video: What Does Two Spirit Mean?

 

 

What It's Like to Be a Native Trans Woman on Thanksgiving

Two Spirited Tradition
LGBTQ Indigenous Trailblazers Who are Making History
Here's What It Means To Be Two-Spirit  According To Native People
Pride in Pictures: Meet the Two Spirit Community

Frameline Video: Two Spirit People

Two Spirit Native American Stories
TED Talk: Two Spirit and Gender Fluidity


 

LGBTQ Native Americans

 

"Two Spirit" is an aboriginal phrase (a direct translation of the Ojibwe term Niizh manidoowag) that refers to both masculine and feminine spirits simultaneously living in the same body. It is a term used by the native, indigenous, or aboriginal lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community.

Within the various native or aboriginal populations, including American Indians (Cherokee, Navajo, Mohican, Iroquois, Mohawk, Creek, Sioux, Apache, Chippewa, Shawnee, Chickasaw, Seminole), Canadian Indian (First Nations), Alaskan Native (Eskimo, Inuit, Aleut), and others, LGBTQ individuals often have difficulty overcoming the cultural taboos against homosexual behavior.


 

Explaining Two-Spirit

Documentary Film: Two Spirits

What It's Like to Be a Native Trans Woman on Thanksgiving

Dancing to Eagle Spirit Society

Barbara May Cameron: Legendary Lesbian Native American Activist
Saving Two Spirit and Indigenous LGBTQ Youth
Mending the Rainbow: Working with Two Spirit Communities

Video: What Does Two Spirit Mean?

Aikāne: Universal Queer Love Story Rooted In Native Hawaiian Tradition

 

Native people whose gender identify differs are often subject to shaming, a form of social censorship within the tribal community. Shame is rendered for inappropriate social behavior, particularly any personal expression for flamboyant dress, mannerisms and especially effeminate behavior among males. Likewise, shame is given any female whose overt masculine behaviors demonstrate her toughness. In short, tolerance in a contemporary Indian community over the years has evolved to allow no alternatives for a male or female Indian identity. Doing so would be considered to bring shame not just on the individual but also negative attention to their family.

As a result of tribal community pressures, young people who have a different sexual orientation often grow up in a closeted existence or actual isolation. This imposed isolation is self-destructive and limits individuals from living to their fullest potential. In a school environment, many of these young people are subjected to bullying and harassment from their classmates. In this atmosphere, support is generally unavailable and creates an unsafe environment within the school. Nonetheless, there are exceptional gay students who somehow endure and who are accepted as equals by their peers. However, the majority of gay students exhibit behaviors such as skipping school, which affects their academic performance, or simply will become a run away from both home and school.

 

Lily Gladstone Talks She/They Pronouns and Gender-Inclusive Award Categories

Here's What It Means To Be Two-Spirit  According To Native People

Wikipedia: Two Spirit
Video: What Does Two Spirit Mean?

Sweetheart Dancers

What It's Like to Be a Native Trans Woman on Thanksgiving

Two Spirited Tradition
Pride in Pictures: Meet the Two Spirit Community

Frameline Video: Two Spirit People

Celebrate Indigenous Power With Our Playlist of Queer Artists

Two Spirit Native American Stories
TED Talk: Two Spirit and Gender Fluidity

 

For Native LGBTQ people who seek life in a city for anonymity, the experience can be far more negative than staying within their home community. Like most natives reared in a tribal community, Native LGBTQ people retain pride in their identity, where they are from and who are their relatives. Living in a city can unfortunately give a sense of alienation that is both physical and emotional. Native LGBTQ individuals often grieve their separation from family and community when they are unaccepted in a city because of their lifestyle as well as being a Native. This experience results in a double discrimination for Native LGBTQ people instead of the desired anonymity.

 


 

Two-Spirit Heroes Who Paved the Way for Today's Native LGBTQ Community

Gay Native American Couple Break Barriers with Pow Wow Dance

Androgyne: Two Spirit Tradition

Indigenous Tribes of the United States

LGBTQ History Includes Indigenous Two-Spirit People

TED Talk: Two Spirit and Gender Fluidity

Here's What It Means To Be Two-Spirit  According To Native People

Two-Spirit/Indigenous LGBTQ Books

Who Are the Two Spirits?

Native Two Spirits


Two-Spirit People


"Two-Spirit" is an umbrella term sometimes used by Native American and Canadian First Nation communities to refer to those who fulfill one of many mixed gender roles. Two-Spirit people are generally defined as LGBTQ and gender-variant members of the Native American/First Nation communities. Many contemporary LGBTQ North American indigenous or aboriginal people use the term “Two-Spirit” to maintain cultural continuity with their traditions.
 

In many cultures, some individuals possessed and manifested a balance of both feminine and masculine energies, making them inherently sacred people. Third gender roles historically embodied by Two-Spirit people include performing work and wearing clothes associated with both men and women. The presence of two-spirits was a fundamental institution among most tribal peoples. Male and female two-spirits have been documented in over 150 tribes, in every region of North America, serving specific duties, including men fulfilling women’s roles, women fulfilling men’s roles, and importantly, Two-Spirit individuals contributing as spiritual leaders.

 

 

According to the Navajo, for example, there are four genders:

 

--Man

--Woman

--Masculine Female-Bodied Nádleeh

--Feminine Male-Bodied Nádleeh

 
It is documented in academic literature that many American Indian cultures honored and respected alternative sexual lifestyles and gender roles, which the Two-Spirit movement is attempting to recover. A complex sex/gender system was found in every region of the continent, among every type of Native culture, from the small bands of hunters in Alaska to the populous, hierarchical city-states in Florida. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer orientations were honored and often coincided with healing and shamanic practices.

 

Two-Spirit Heroes Who Paved the Way for Today's Native LGBTQ Community

Native American LGBTQ Info and Resources
TED Talk: Two Spirit and Gender Fluidity

Explaining Two-Spirit

Two Spirited Tradition

Celebrate Indigenous Power With Our Playlist of Queer Artists

Video: What Does Two Spirit Mean?

Pride in Pictures: Meet the Two Spirit Community

 

 

Famous Native and Indigenous LGBTQ Persons
 

Osh-Tisch (Crow) - Tribal Leader
lhamana We'wha (Zuni) - Spiritual Leader, Hunter, Potter, Weaver
Hastiin Klah (Diné) - Artist, Chanter, Weaver, Healer
Lozen (Apache) - Geronimo's Sister, Medicine Woman, Military Strategist
Dahteste (Apache) - Scout, Messenger, Mediator

Beth Brant (Mohawk) - Writer

Tara Gomez (Chumash) - Winemaker

Sharice Davids (Ho-Chunk) - Politician, US House of Representatives from Kansas
Trudie Jackson (Navajo) - Politician, Community Leader

Barbara May Cameron (Lakota) - Poet, Writer, Activist

Sean Snyder (Ute, Apache) - Pow Wow Dancer

Adrian Matthias Stevens (Ute, Navajo) - Pow Wow Dancer

Susan Allen (Lakota) - Minnesota State Representative
Yolanda Bonnell (Ojibwe) - Canadian Actor, Playwright

Lori Campbell (Cree-Métis) - Educator, Politician

Raven Davis (Ojibwe) - Artist, Activist, Traditional Cultural Worker

Blake Desjarlais (Cree/Metis) - Politician, Canada's First Two-Spirit Member of Parliament
Jeremy Dutcher (Wolastoqiyik) - Musician, Composer, Musicologist, Activist

Bretten Hannam (Mi'kmaq/Ojibwe) - Filmmaker

Shawnee Kish (Mohawk) - Musician
Richard LaFortune (Yupik) - Activist, Author, Artist
James Makokis (Cree) - Physician

Kent Monkman (Cree) - Artist
Rebecca Nagle (Cherokee) - Activist, Writer
Harlan Pruden (Cree) - Scholar, Activist
Smokii Sumac (Ktunaxa) - Poet, Activist
Arielle Twist (Cree) - Poet
Ilona Verley (Nlaka'pamux) - Drag Queen, Contestant on Canada's Drag Race
Storme Webber (Alutiiq and Choctaw) - Artist
Delina White (Ojibwe) - Activist, Artist, Fashion Designer
Joshua Whitehead (Oji-Cree) - Poet, Novelist
Massey Whiteknife (Cree) - Businessman, Producer, Entertainer

Lily Gladstone (Blackfeet) - Actor

Annie Kaio (Fa’afafine) - Pageant Model, Miss Samoa Fa’afafine, New Zealand

 

LGBTQ History Includes Indigenous Two-Spirit People

Frameline Video: Two Spirit People

LGBTQ Native Americans: Making the World a Better Place

Indigenous Tribes of the United States

LGBTQ Indigenous Trailblazers Who are Making History

Wikipedia: Two Spirit
Two Spirit Native American Stories

Here's What It Means To Be Two-Spirit  According To Native People

Aikāne: Universal Queer Love Story Rooted In Native Hawaiian Tradition
 

 

Sharice Davids: Politician

 

Sharice Davids is a Native American lesbian politician and attorney from Kansas who serves as a democrat in the US House of Representatives. She is the first openly LGBTQ Native American elected to the US Congress, the first openly lesbian person elected to the US Congress from Kansas, and one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress, along with Deb Haaland of New Mexico.

 

Davids is an attorney educated at the University of Missouri–Kansas City (BBA degree) and Cornell Law School (JD degree).

In the US Congress, she is the co-chair of the LGBTQ Equality Caucus, the Vice Chair of the Native American Caucus, the Vice Chair of the New Democrat Coalition, and a member of the House Pro-Choice Caucus.
 

Queerty named Davids one of the Pride50 "trailblazing individuals who actively ensure society remains moving towards equality, acceptance and dignity for all queer people". She was also named to the 2021 Fast Company Queer 50 list.

 

She is a member of the Ho-Chunk nation.

 

Two-Spirit Heroes Who Paved the Way for Today's Native LGBTQ Community

Gay Native American Couple Break Barriers with Pow Wow Dance

Androgyne: Two Spirit Tradition

Indigenous Tribes of the United States

LGBTQ History Includes Indigenous Two-Spirit People

TED Talk: Two Spirit and Gender Fluidity

Here's What It Means To Be Two-Spirit  According To Native People

Two-Spirit/Indigenous LGBTQ Books

Who Are the Two Spirits?

Native Two Spirits

 

Sean Snyder and Adrian Matthias Stevens

Meet the Native American couple redefining cultural norms…  Nevada-based dancers Adrian Matthias Stevens and Sean Synder are blazing a trail in traditional Native American culture: The out couple are now regularly performing a “sweetheart’s dance” on the same pow-wow circuit that they first met on years ago.

Stevens, who is of Northern Ute, Shoshone-Bannock and San Carlos Apache heritage; and Snyder, who is of Southern Ute and Navajo heritage, are a Two-Spirit couple that have been together for seven years. Within North American Indigenous communities, Two-Spirit refers to people who possess both masculine and feminine spirits, but it can also be used to represent LGBTQ Indigenous people more broadly. “It’s not biological, it’s spiritual, and it ties back to what I was taught growing up,” Stevens told Vogue in 2020. “My aunties recognized me as a Two-Spirit individual way before I even recognized it.”

 



When Stevens and Snyder first met, they were both dancers on Utah’s powwow circuit. Pow wows are social gatherings held by many different Native American and First Nations communities. Contemporary pow wows involve dancing competitions, singing, socializing, and other elements. The sweetheart competition, where couples show off partnered routines in hopes of winning a prize, is a frequent element of many pow wows, with cash prizes that can top $10,000. However, it took Stevens and Synder years to perform a couple routine in the sweetheart competition. That category was exclusively performed by male and female dancers until 2018, when they became the first Two-Spirit pair to do so, after being disqualified from a dance the year prior.  “Because our styles are so different, we had to find a way to dance together,” Snyder told Vogue. “And for us being two men, it was surprisingly difficult. You don’t grow up going to dances and learning to dance with another same-sex partner. We had to learn how to lead and how to take direction.”



 

Since then, their routines and matching regalia (each embellished with their own handmade beadwork) have brought them widespread attention. In 2019, a short documentary telling their story, Sweetheart Dancers, was shown at the PBS Short Film Festival.  "To be here as a 2Spirit person means being proud of my identity and how I walk this earth between the masculine and feminine," Sean  said. "It means dancing with Pride, using my movements to take up space. Using my art and designs to show the world we are thriving. Using my voice for our youth and our elders. My peers and the Two-Spirit community deserve more from our own Sovereign Nations, to be protected and to have the equal rights as our Cis/Hetero relations."

 

Sweetheart Dancers

TED Talk: Two Spirit and Gender Fluidity

Two-Spirit Heroes Who Paved the Way for Today's Native LGBTQ Community

Who Are the Two Spirits?

Documentary Film: Two Spirits

Barbara May Cameron: Legendary Lesbian Native American Activist
Saving Two Spirit and Indigenous LGBTQ Youth

Explaining Two-Spirit

Gay Native American Couple Break Barriers with Pow Wow Dance

Indigenous Tribes of the United States

LGBTQ History Includes Indigenous Two-Spirit People

Native Two Spirits

Native American LGBTQ Info and Resources

 

 

Queer Indigenous Books

Buffalo Is the New Buffalo by Chelsea Vowel
A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger
A Minor Chorus by Billy-Ray Belcourt
Rabbit Chase by Elizabeth LaPensée and KC Oster
Ask the Brindled by No’u Revilla
Màgòdiz by Gabe Calderón
Making Love with the Land by Joshua Whitehead
The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson

Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead
The Bone People by Keri Hulme
Sovereign Erotics: Collection of Two-Spirit Literature by Qwo-Li Driskill
Wyrwood (The Way of Thorn and Thunder) by Daniel Heath Justice

After the Snow Melts by Maggie Blackbird
Lesbian Triptych by Jovette Marchessault
Two-Spirit Journey: Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder by Ma-Nee Chacaby
Godly Heathens by H.E. Edgmon
Disintegrate/Dissociate by Arielle Twist
Two Princes (When We Were Young) by Maggie Blackbird
Mohawk Trail by Beth Brant
This Wound Is a World by Billy-Ray Belcourt
Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones
My Woman Card Is Anti-Native and Other Two-Spirit Truths by Xemiyulu Manibusan Tapepechul
Samoan Queer Lives by Dan Taulapapa McMullin
Tied Up with a Bow by Maggie Blackbird
Daughters of the Deer by Danielle Daniel
Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway
The Woman Who Owned the Shadows by Paula Gunn Allen
Living the Spirit: Gay American Indian Anthology by Will Roscoe

 

Two-Spirit Heroes Who Paved the Way for Today's Native LGBTQ Community

Two-Spirit/Indigenous LGBTQ Books
Here's What It Means To Be Two-Spirit  According To Native People

Dancing to Eagle Spirit Society

Aikāne: Universal Queer Love Story Rooted In Native Hawaiian Tradition

Mending the Rainbow: Working with Two Spirit Communities

Video: What Does Two Spirit Mean?

Androgyne: Two Spirit Tradition

Barbara May Cameron: Legendary Lesbian Native American Activist

 

Tara Gomez: Winemaker
 

Congratulations to Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians community member Tara Gomez for recently being recognized by Wine Enthusiast as one of their Future 40 Tastemakers for 2023!
 

In addition to being an award winning winemaker, Tara serves as an adviser for the James Beard Foundation Legacy Network Program, a member of the Hue Society, and on the board of directors for The Vinguard.

 


 

Tara Gomez: Award Winning Winemaker

Camins2Dreams Winery


Tara and her wife, Mireia, are the owners and winemakers for their family winery, Camins2Dreams in Lompoc, California.


Tara Gomez is constantly working toward a more inclusive wine industry. As a Native American of the Chumash Tribe, Gomez says it’s important for her to uplift other marginalized groups and contributes to nonprofits such as Vino de Sueños which assists struggling migrant agricultural workers. Further, Gomez, who works alongside wife Mireia Taribó, aims to create a safe space for the LGBTQ community both within her own business as well as through contributing to her local Santa Ynez Valley Pride and The Rainbow House.
 

Native American LGBTQ Info and Resources
LGBTQ Native Americans: Making the World a Better Place
Two-Spirit Joy (and Pain) Examined in New Doc 'Being Thunder'
Wikipedia: Two Spirit
Video: What Does Two Spirit Mean?

Two Spirited Tradition
LGBTQ Indigenous Trailblazers Who are Making History
Here's What It Means To Be Two-Spirit  According To Native People
Pride in Pictures: Meet the Two Spirit Community

Frameline Video: Two Spirit People

Two-Spirit Heroes Who Paved the Way for Today's Native LGBTQ Community

Two Spirit Native American Stories
TED Talk: Two Spirit and Gender Fluidity

 

Trudie Jackson: Leader

Trudie Jackson made history as the first out trans and two-spirit Native woman to run for president of Navajo Nation, a Native American territory occupying portions of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.

Currently residing in Albuquerque, Jackson founded the Southwest American Indian Rainbow Gathering, which is currently in its eighth year and addresses health disparities of American Indians that identify as two-spirit. A current board member for the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico, she’s received awards for her work from the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center and It Gets Better.

 

 

Additionally, Jackson was selected to be part of the first cohort with the 2018 Tribal Researchers Cancer Control Fellowship Program under the Portland Area Indian Health Board, where she will explore public health research on Native trans women, hormone therapy, and liver function.

Though Jackson lost the 2018 election, her message still resonates. “My identity as a candidate gave hope and inspiration to many young and older Navajo 2SLGBTQ third, fourth, and fifth gender individuals to embrace their identity, but most importantly is to exercise their right to vote in the Navajo Nation primary and general presidential election to share their voice, opinion, and ask questions for the betterment of the Navajo Nation.”

 

The activist continues to blaze trails, completing a doctorate degree, making her one of only a few Native American two-spirit trans women to have done world that disadvantages them.


Jackson says she acknowledges, the many Indigenous two-spirit trailblazers who have “paved the way for my existence in a colonial society, in which we continue to fight for our existence within the boundaries of our Sovereign Tribal Nations.”

 

[Source: Advocate]
 

Native American LGBTQ Info and Resources
Wikipedia: Two Spirit

Celebrate Indigenous Power With Our Playlist of Queer Artists

Two-Spirit/Indigenous LGBTQ Books

LGBTQ Indigenous Trailblazers Who are Making History

Video: What Does Two Spirit Mean?

Aikāne: Universal Queer Love Story Rooted In Native Hawaiian Tradition

Two Spirited Tradition
Pride in Pictures: Meet the Two Spirit Community

Frameline Video: Two Spirit People

Two Spirit Native American Stories
Here's What It Means To Be Two-Spirit  According To Native People

LGBTQ Native Americans: Making the World a Better Place

TED Talk: Two Spirit and Gender Fluidity

Indigenous Tribes of the United States

 

Barbara May Cameron: Legendary Lesbian Native American Activist

Barbara May Cameron (1954 – 2002) was a lesbian Native American photographer, poet, writer, and human rights activist in the fields of lesbian/gay rights, women's rights, and Native American rights. She was a Hunkpapa Lakota from the Fort Yates band of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in Fort Yates, North Dakota. She grew up on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Completing her early education and high schooling on the reservation, she went on to further her education in photography and film at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 1973 Cameron moved to San Francisco to attend the San Francisco Art Institute. As a photographer and movie maker, Cameron won media and theater arts awards.

 

 

Barbara May Cameron: Biographical Notes
Lesbian Native American Activist Barbara May Cameron
Barbara May Cameron: Legendary Lesbian Native American Activist


Cameron co-founded the Gay American Indians (GAI), in 1975 with Randy Burns, a Northern Paiute. GAI was the first gay American Indian liberation organization. In 1978, Cameron contributed to the anthology Our Right to Love: a lesbian resource book. From 1980 to 1985, Cameron participated in organizing the Lesbian Gay Freedom Day Parade and Celebration, and in 1981, she contributed to This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, which was edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa. Her article, Gee, You Don't Seem Like an Indian from the Reservation, analyzed topics like racism and homophobia from both inside and outside the Native American community. In 1983 she contributed to the landmark collection A Gathering of Spirit: A Collection of Writing and Art by North American Indian Women, which included works by twelve Native lesbians.

In the late 1980s, Cameron was vice president of the Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club and co-chair for Lesbian Agenda for Action. In 1988, she served as a delegate for Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition to the Democratic National Convention. That same year, she was appointed by Dianne Feinstein, then San Francisco Mayor, to the Citizens Committee on Community Development and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. She was appointed by Frank Jordan, the next mayor, to serve on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

She received the Harvey Milk Award for Community Service in 1992 and the following year, she was the first recipient of the Bay Area Career Women Community Service Award. That same year, she was a participant in the International Indigenous AIDS Network as part of the International Conference on AIDS. She spent the year 1993 engaged in AIDS education, traveling to various Indian reservations throughout the United States.

Cameron was in a 21-year relationship with Linda Boyd, with whom she raised a son, Rhys Boyd-Farrell. Shedied of natural causes at the age of 47.
 

Native American LGBTQ Info and Resources
TED Talk: Two Spirit and Gender Fluidity

LGBTQ Indigenous Trailblazers Who are Making History

Wikipedia: Two Spirit

What It's Like to Be a Native Trans Woman on Thanksgiving

Video: What Does Two Spirit Mean?

Two Spirited Tradition
LGBTQ Native Americans: Making the World a Better Place

Indigenous Tribes of the United States

Pride in Pictures: Meet the Two Spirit Community

Explaining Two-Spirit

LGBTQ History Includes Indigenous Two-Spirit People

Frameline Video: Two Spirit People

Two Spirit Native American Stories

Here's What It Means To Be Two-Spirit  According To Native People

 

 

Native American Names for Two-Spirit People

--Badé / Boté (Crow people)
--Warhameh (Cocopa people)
--Joya (Chumash people)
--Kwiraxame (Maricopa people)
--Ihamana (Zuni people)
--Winkte (Lakota people)
--Nadleeh (Navajo people)

 

Before the late twentieth century, the term “berdache” was widely used by anthropologists as a generic term to indicate two-spirit individuals. However, this term has become increasingly outdated and considered offensive. The term “Two-Spirit” gained widespread popularity in 1990 during the third annual intertribal Native American/First Nations gay and lesbian conference in Winnipeg.

"Two-spirited" or "two-spirit" usually indicates a person whose body simultaneously manifests both a masculine and a feminine spirit. These individuals were sometimes viewed in certain tribes as having two spirits occupying one body. Their dress is usually a mixture of traditionally male and traditionally female articles. They have distinct gender and social roles in their tribes. The term can also be used more abstractly, to indicate presence of two contrasting human spirits (such as Warrior and Clan Mother) or two contrasting animal spirits (which, depending on the culture, might be Eagle and Coyote).

 

    

 

Here's What It Means To Be Two-Spirit According To Native People

Dancing to Eagle Spirit Society

Mending the Rainbow: Working with Two Spirit Communities

Video: What Does Two Spirit Mean?

Aikāne: Universal Queer Love Story Rooted In Native Hawaiian Tradition

Androgyne: Two Spirit Tradition

Two-Spirit/Indigenous LGBTQ Books

Barbara May Cameron: Legendary Lesbian Native American Activist

What It's Like to Be a Native Trans Woman on Thanksgiving

TED Talk: Two Spirit and Gender Fluidity

Who Are the Two Spirits?

 

Two-Spirit is a native tradition that researchers have identified in some of the earliest discoveries of native artifacts. Much evidence indicates that native people, prior to colonization, believed in the existence of cross-gender roles, the male-female, the female-male, what we now call the Two-Spirited person. Two-spirits might have relationships with people of either sex. Female-bodied two-spirits usually had sexual relations or marriages with only females.

In Native American/First Nation culture, before the Europeans came to the Americas, "two-spirit" referred to an ancient teaching. Native elders tell of people who were gifted among all beings because they carried two spirits, that of male and female. It is told that women engaged in tribal warfare and married other women, as there were men who married other men. These individuals were looked upon as a third and fourth gender in many cases and in almost all cultures they were honored and revered.

 

Wikipedia: Two Spirit
Charlie Ballard Video: Being Gay and Native American
Two Spirited Tradition
Frameline Video: Two Spirit People

Celebrate Indigenous Power With Our Playlist of Queer Artists

Two Spirit Native American Stories

 

Two-spirit people were often the visionaries, the healers, the medicine people, the nannies of orphans, the care givers. They were respected as fundamental components of their ancient culture and societies. In some tribes, male-bodied two-spirits held specific active roles which, varying by tribe, may include: healers or medicine persons, conveyors of oral traditions and songs, foretellers of the future, conferrers of lucky names on children or adults, nurses during war expeditions, potters, matchmakers, makers of feather regalia for dances, and special role players in the Sun Dance.

Although two-spirits were both respected and feared in many tribes, the two-spirit was not beyond reproach or even being killed for bad deeds. They frequently became medicine persons and were likely to be suspected of witchcraft in cases of failed harvest or of death. They were, like any other medicine person, frequently killed over these suspicions. At the same time, traditional Two-Spirit customs and ceremonies have, in many cases, been replaced with Anglo-Christian ideology and homophobia.

 

Native American LGBTQ Info and Resources
TED Talk: Two Spirit and Gender Fluidity

Wikipedia: Two Spirit
Here's What It Means To Be Two-Spirit According To Native People

Video: What Does Two Spirit Mean?

Two Spirited Tradition
Indigenous Tribes of the United States

Aikāne: Universal Queer Love Story Rooted In Native Hawaiian Tradition

Pride in Pictures: Meet the Two Spirit Community

Frameline Video: Two Spirit People

Two Spirit Native American Stories

Two-Spirit Heroes Who Paved the Way for Today's Native LGBTQ Community

 

 

Other Indigenous Two-Spirit People

There are transgender and non-binary people among native, indigenous and aboriginal populations throughout the world. These "creative spirits" typically occupy separate, sometimes isolated, communities. 

 

Australia - Yimpininni (Sistergirls, Brotherboys)

India - Hijra, Khanith

Mexico - Muxe

Southwestern US - Dineh

Hawaii - Māhū

Polynesia - Fa'afafine 

Indonesia - Calabai, Calalai

Balkans - Sworn Virgins


 

LGBTQ People in Aboriginal Cultures

Queer Indigenous History

New Zealand’s Annie Kaio Crowned Miss Samoa Fa’afafine
Black Rainbow

Sistagals of Australia's Tiwi Islands

Third Gender Movement

Yimpininni: Largest Native Trans Community

Sistergirls and Brotherboys

Khanith Festival

 

New Zealand’s Annie Kaio Crowned Miss Samoa Fa’afafine

 

2023 Beauty Pageant

New Zealand’s Annie Kaio was crowned Miss Samoa Fa’afafine 2023 at the beauty pageant held last week in Apia, the capital city of the South Pacific island nation of Samoa.

Organized by the Samoa Fa’afafine Association, the pageant has been running since 2006 as both a contest of creativity and a forum for discussion of fa’afafine issues. The annual event is a celebration of fa’afafine, a gender identity unique to Samoa that refers to people who were assigned male at birth but live as female, or embrace feminine attributes.

In the week leading up to the pageant, contestants participated in community events and cultural activities, including a church service commemorating World Aids Day, and a rubbish clean up around Apia.

 



Fa’afafine community advocate Amao Leota Lu has attended the pageant twice, and said it was an important reminder of the contributions that fa’afafine brings to society. “I just get astounded and amazed at the support that there is for the fa’afafine community. It seems to grow in abundance, and I think it speaks volumes for the work that community does,” she said. “It’s not just about gowns and heels, it’s about bringing our creativity, being able to celebrate our culture, but also looking after the wider community such as monetary contributions that the fa’afafine associations give to old peoples’ homes.”

Melbourne’s Kitana Lemalu dazzled the judges at the beauty pageant. Lemalu was one of seven fa’afafine contestants to present a talent performance, creative wear, swimwear, an evening gown, and a live interview, in her pursuit of the crown. While Lemalu didn’t place in the competition, she said the experience was a “remarkable journey of personal growth and empowerment. This transformative journey allowed me to not just celebrate who I am but also to inspire others to embrace their uniqueness. It’s been a privilege." Lemalu donned a series of fashionable ensembles, from regal couture gowns to a ‘Barbie’ themed swimwear costume. For the talent category, she performed a lip sync number telling the story of people marginalised for their queerness.


“Annie Kaio’s win is a celebration not just for her but for our entire community, and I’m eager to witness the positive impact she’ll bring during her reign,” Lemalu said.

 

Native American LGBTQ Info and Resources

Frybread Face and Me: Navajo Boy Finds His Queerness and His Culture
LGBTQ Native Americans: Making the World a Better Place
Two-Spirit Joy (and Pain) Examined in New Doc 'Being Thunder'
Wikipedia: Two Spirit
Video: What Does Two Spirit Mean?

What It's Like to Be a Native Trans Woman on Thanksgiving

Two Spirited Tradition
LGBTQ Indigenous Trailblazers Who are Making History
Here's What It Means To Be Two-Spirit  According To Native People
Pride in Pictures: Meet the Two Spirit Community

Frameline Video: Two Spirit People

Two-Spirit Heroes Who Paved the Way for Today's Native LGBTQ Community

Two Spirit Native American Stories
TED Talk: Two Spirit and Gender Fluidity

 

HOME

 


QUEER CAFE │ LGBTQ Information Network │ Established 2017